10 Steps for enjoying the ride to the top

This post was inspired whilst reading Eric Winquist’s (founder of Jama Software, Inc.) post on EO (Entrepreneurs Organization) Overdrive.

If theres’s one thing I’ve realized working with busy executives.. and even busier entrepreneurs over the course of the last 26 years, is that if you’re going to invest every waking moment into something.. if at times you’re going to put family, friends & relationships on the “back-burner”, than you’d better enjoy the ride to the top! Most of all.. you’d better enjoy it and feel completely fulfilled once you’ve reached the top.

1. Enjoy the journey..

A business is a journey, and usually a long journey at that. You’re going to make compromises along the way.. make sure they’re compromises you can live with & won’t regret later.

2. Always give back..

Sure, we’re in business to make money.  But there’s also the factor that to receive someone must give. If you make a business all about you, your story & contribution to your environment won’t be a very rewarding one. It’s all about commitment to a cause greater than only yourself.

3. Move fast..

Speed is one of the natural advantages a startup can have over larger, more established companies. But there is no reason you can’t inject agility into any company.. it’s just a matter of culture first & then catalyzing the capacity second.

4. Listen to customers..

It’s an overstatement to say, “Customers are always right.” They’re not, just like we’re not always right. However, should listen to them because they are our market. Try to understand as best you can what they want, and then do your best to give them exactly that, even if it’s in a different format than they expected.

5. Trust your gut..

There are times when you’ll have different feedback from customers, advisors, partners and everyone under the sun. During those times, go with what you believe is right. And if you’re wrong, simply adjust to the outcome and or try something else. It’s your head-on-the-line at the end of the day, you’ve got (should have) the experience & better perspective of where you want to finally get.. so go with your experienced gut instinct.

6. Follow your passion..

In business, you have to love what you’re doing in order to be successful. Too many people have pursued business ideas because they thought they were lucrative, only to be miserable managing businesses they don’t enjoy.

7. Don’t overanalyze..

This is called analysis paralysis. Too much data and too much analysis will freeze the best decision makers. Take the information that’s most relevant and discard the rest. Adapt, modify, overcome and execute; that’s the key to continued success.

8. Do your homework..

A great idea alone doesn’t make a business plan. Doing your homework means knowing your market, competitors and customers. It means keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry because things change constantly, and you don’t want to be out of touch.

9. Be an open book..

Some companies like to guard every secret, even from their employees. The industrial age is over & many companies are now finding success adopting the opposite philosophy; being as open as possible with strategy, news, financials, product roadmaps and future plans. It’s a little thing called trust, the same thing you expect from your workforce, and that might be the best competitive differentiator you could build. This is also the greatest secret weapon to guaranteeing full-engegament from your team (and customers).

10. Speak honestly..

It’s easy to only communicate good news, but you need to apply the same approach to bad news, too. You’re either building or destroying trust every day, and there’s no neutral ground!

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